Azerbaijan. In January, Azerbaijan and neighboring
Armenia were admitted at the same time as members of the
Council of Europe. In the spring, Azerbaijan President
Gejdar Aliyev and Armenian President Robert Kotjarjan met in
the United States for talks on the Armenian breakaway piano
Nagorno-Karabakh. According to
Countryaah, Azerbaijan demands to regain power over
the enclave, which Armenia opposes. The talks were
unsuccessful and during the summer, Azerbaijan's defense
minister accused Armenia of military armaments at the
border. Russian President Vladimir Putin visited Azerbaijan
during the year and offered some military cooperation.
Azerbaijan has previously accused Moscow of standing on
In April, police took action against demonstrative
oppositionists in the capital Baku and according to the
opposition, hundreds of people were arrested. In July,
multi-year prison sentences were sentenced to a group of
oppositionists for a demonstration the year before. The
opposition labeled the convicted as political prisoners.
During the year, Azerbaijan received criticism from, among
other things, The United States for Human Rights Violations
and Critics argued that Azerbaijan's membership of the
Council of Europe legitimizes a single regime.
In the summer, Azerbaijan ended up in diplomatic conflict
with Iran over the search for oil in the Caspian Sea, after
Iranian naval vessels and Iranian military aircraft forced
Azerbaijan vessels to leave disputed waters.
On August 1, Azerbaijan formally replaced Cyrillic
writing with the Latin alphabet. Cyrillic writing was forced
into the country in 1939 by the Soviet dictator Stalin; the
new writing reform was part of the quest to bring Azerbaijan
closer to the western world. The country's schools have been
teaching the Latin alphabet since 1992. At the end of the
year came several reports about the regime's attempts to
stifle press freedom. Journalists demonstrating in Baku were
dispelled with violence by the police. Council of Europe.